Native plants of Cayman

Shamrock by Joanne Mercille

Shamrock, or Hemlock, as it is known in Cayman Brac, can often be found growing along roadsides.

Shamrock; Cow-stick; Hemlock (Cayman Brac) / Tecoma stans

Shamrock is a colourful, happy plant with its bright yellow bloom.

It is often found as secondary vegetation, lining the road verge and forest margin.

Long pendulums of narrow seed pods will hang from it and open up to let numerous light, papery seeds disperse in the wind. This plant could also be considered invasive, as it will reseed everywhere.

Known as Hemlock in Cayman Brac, it is a large, linear, upright perennial bush that is often found in wind-protected coastal areas.

Height: 15 to 25 feet
Growth habit: Vigorous growth and prolific propagation
Flowers: Yellow clusters that have a slight fragrance reveal themselves for a long period over winter/spring season
Soil requirement: Well-drained, weak soil
Light requirements: Full sun
Environment tolerance: It is not wind-tolerant, but very drought-tolerant
Nature attracting:

Native to the more tropical parts of the US and the West Indies, it has naturalised in many parts of the world.

This plant is locally found on Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac.

Horticulture potential: Shamrock has a commercial horticultural value, in that it will lend itself as an easily manicured hedge and can be used as a shade tree in a parking lot. It will not require irrigation, and is happy in dry soil. It will readily bloom for long periods of time over winter and spring.

About Joanne Mercille
Mercille has called Grand Cayman home since 1997 and she has a keen interest in local flora. She is curator for the National Trust Herbarium and has created an online database for public viewing of the physical herbarium. She is also webmaster for and owns Caribbean Blooms – a native plant nursery. She is an avid gardener and member of the Garden Club of Grand Cayman.

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